Fine quantum for MPs to be disqualified may be raised from S$2,000 to at least S$10,000 under new Bill
SINGAPORE: The fine quantum to be disqualified as a Member of Parliament (MP) will be raised from at least S$2,000 to at least S$10,000, if proposed changes to Singapore’s Constitution are passed by Parliament.
Under a Bill introduced on Monday (Apr 4), the change serves to “account for inflation over the years”, said the Elections Department (ELD) in a media release, noting that the existing fine quantum has not been revised since Singapore’s independence.
The proposed change also "brings the revised sum to correspond to the sentences handed down by the courts in Singapore today for relevant offences”, said ELD.
“Revising the fine quantum from ‘not less than $2,000’ to ‘not less than $10,000’ would ensure that the fine quantum is commensurate with fines meted out for offences which are relevant to the integrity of the person, such as tax evasion, corruption, etc."
Besides amending laws relating to disqualification as an MP, the Bill also seeks to change those related to the disqualification of members of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) and the Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR).
The Bill comes as part of the department’s review of Singapore’s electoral processes and legislation.
The amendments ensure that disqualification criteria are "updated and remain relevant in ensuring that members are persons with integrity and who adhere to high standards of conduct", said the ELD.
In February, the Committee of Privileges (COP) recommended that former Workers' Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan be fined S$35,000 for lying in Parliament.
WP chief Pritam Singh and vice-chair Faisal Manap, both Aljunied GRC MPs, were also referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations, with “a view to considering if criminal proceedings ought to be instituted", said the COP.
In a Facebook post after the COP's report, Mr Singh noted that several “unknowns” remained – including the prospect of him and Mr Faisal losing their parliamentary seats if either of them were to be fined S$2,000 or more.
OTHER AMENDMENTS TO DISQUALIFICATION LAWS
Currently, the disqualification criterion also includes being convicted by a court of law in Singapore or Malaysia. The Bill proposed expanding this to cover convictions by a court of law in any foreign country.
“With more Singaporeans living, travelling and doing business in other countries besides Malaysia, convictions in other countries should be included in the disqualification criteria,” said the ELD.
In addition, a Singapore citizen who voluntarily acquires foreign citizenship can presently be disqualified as MP.
A separate proposed amendment “removes an outdated clause” which provides an exception if a Singapore citizen voluntarily acquires citizenship in a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland.
The ELD also noted that the amendments will apply to convictions by a court of law in Singapore or elsewhere before, on or after the date of commencement of the amendments.
“For individuals who were fined at least S$2,000 but less than S$10,000 and are currently disqualified, they will cease to be disqualified once the amendments come into operation,” it said.